Harvard to Host Pro-Homeschoolers in Response to 'Disinformation Campaign Against Homeschooling'

Posted: Apr 24, 2020 8:50 PM
Harvard to Host Pro-Homeschoolers in Response to 'Disinformation Campaign Against Homeschooling'

Source: AP Photo/Charles Krupa

Harvard stirred controversy earlier this month when they announced a June invitation-only summit to discuss increased regulations and a presumptive ban on homeschooling. The event, dubbed, "Homeschooling Summit: Problems, Politics, and Prospects for Reform," is set to feature a who's-who of academics, lawyers, and activists who have been outspoken in their belief that parents should not legally be allowed to educate their children at home. 

One featured speaker of the anti-homeschooling summit, Harvard Law Professor Elizabeth Bartholet, penned a lengthy article in the Arizona Law Review last year that concluded that homeschooling in the United States should be banned. Bartholet noted most specifically that children taught by their parents might not be exposed to the same social views as children in public schools. She contends that for this reason, homeschooled children are prevented from being "active, productive participants in the larger society."

Many homeschool because they want to isolate their children from ideas and values central to our democracy, determined to keep their children from exposure to views that might enable autonomous choice about their future lives. Many promote racial segregation and female subservience. Many question science. Abusive parents can keep their children at home free from the risk that teachers will report them to child protection services.

Noting the lack of homeschool supporters slated to speak at the three day event in Cambridge, many called on Harvard and the event planners to extend invitations to some advocates for family choice in education. A suggestion to invite the Home Schooling Legal Defense Association, which has worked tirelessly for decades to defend the rights of homeschoolers, was flatly denied. 

Founder of the HSLDA and homeschooling father of ten Michael Farris penned an Op-Ed for Townhall dismantling Bartholet's attack on home educators.

Since Bartholet loves anecdotal evidence, let me answer her charges with my own anecdotes. But let me first explain why my stories are appropriate. Harvard’s article derides an organization I founded: the Home School Legal Defense Association. Through her smears of the movement, she implies that HSLDA is associated with her imagined ills. So, let’s see.

As to her claim of female subservience, three of the four Supreme Court law clerks I personally taught are women. A conservative Christian college producing so many talented women lawyers is not what she has apparently imagined.

And I am the proud grandfather of an African American newborn baby. My daughter-in-law is Nigerian, and my grandson is a dual citizen.

Bartholet conjures up an imaginary profile of conservative Christian homeschoolers—yet, the life of HSLDA’s founder demonstrates how little she knows about a movement she seeks to denounce.

When the pandemic is behind us, I would be happy to come to Cambridge and take Professor Bartholet to dinner. She might be surprised if she actually took the time to finally meet one of the people she misunderstands so much.

Amid outcry from homeschooling advocates and allies, Harvard announced on Friday that they would be hosting a virtual discussion that would effectively counter the suggestions being put forward by the original summit. 

Titled, "The Disinformation Campaign Against Homeschooling," the May 1 event will precede the summit hosted by Harvard Law and being presented by the Kennedy School of Government. The event is also organized by the student-run group, Ideological Diversity.

"Speakers will discuss the dishonest attacks on homeschooling that have been pervasive in the media and academia and also address the failures of public education," the event website states. The discussion will take place via virtual call host Zoom and is open to all, no RSVP required. 

Speakers include the Director of School Choice at the Reason Foundation Corey DeAngelis, author of 'Unschooled,' Kerry McDonald, education scholar Peter Gray, homeschooling advocate Patrick Ferenga, and documentary filmmaker Cevin Soling. 

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